News / Art

You’ll be able to livestream the restoration of Rembrandt’s The Night Watch next year


Rembrandt, The Night Watch

Have you ever wanted to see how the magic happens? Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum are inviting you into – ok, not their MTV Cribs bedrooms, but a closely guarded secret none-the less – watching a classic painting restoration in real-time. Next year, Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum will be restoring Rembrandt’s The Night Watch via a web livestream. Art fans will be able to watch the classic work be restored in real-time online and in real life, as conservators are allowing a public gaze to oversee their restoration of the classic work in the museum, too.

Speaking to The Guardian, art historian and general director of Rijksmuseum, Taco Dibbits, explained the sheer undertaking of the work, which measures 3.5 metres in height by almost 4.5 metres in length. He described the discolouration of the painting in specific areas, and notably, in a worn figure of a dog on the lower right hand side of the painting. The restoration will use cutting-edge technology, including computer analysis, high-res photography and scanning to prepare the discussions of how exactly the restoration will take place – and the public will be invited to watch as it happens.

This will be the second restoration of The Night Watch, but the first time that the public will be able to livestream – and be critical of – the process. But Dibbitts doesn’t seem to be worried about the potential Boiler Room-esque flood of forum critics on the sidelines. “The Night Watch is one of the most famous paintings in the world. It belongs to us all", he says, “and that is why we have decided to conduct the restoration within the museum itself – and everyone, wherever they are, will be able to follow the process online.”

Before the restoration begins, The Night Watch will be the centrepiece of the Rijksmuseum’s display of their entire collection of more than 400 works by Rembrandt, in an exhibition to mark the 350th anniversary of the artist’s death opening on 15 February 2019. The restoration is due to begin in July 2019 – see you on the stream!